with Spencer Greenberg
the podcast about ideas that matter

Episode 117: How to form habits effectively (with Jim Davies)

August 11, 2022

How can we form good habits more effectively? What roles do reward and punishment play in the habit formation process? And what roles should they play? How should we structure our daily schedules around new habits to maximize the likelihood that they'll stick? If our goal is to do 100 push-ups a day, it's often easier to start with 10 and increase the difficulty over time; but at what level of difficulty should we start, and how quickly should we approach the target difficulty? How does willpower connect (or not) with habit formation? Why should we care about animal consciousness? When it comes to estimating how much good specific interventions will do, are bad estimates better than no estimates at all?

Dr. Jim Davies is a professor of cognitive science at Carleton University. He is the author of Imagination: The Science of Your Mind’s Greatest Power; Riveted: The Science of Why Jokes Make us Laugh, Movies Make us Cry, and Religion Makes us Feel One with the Universe; and Being the Person Your Dog Thinks You Are: The Science of a Better You. He co-hosts (with Dr. Kim Hellemans) the award-winning podcast Minding the Brain. Learn more about him at or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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Host / Director
Spencer Greenberg

Josh Castle

Audio Engineer
Ryan Kessler

Uri Bram

Janaisa Baril

Lee Rosevere
Josh Woodward
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